Collaborative and effective care through joined-up teams
In 2016, English NHS organisations and local councils formed sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) with the goal of devolving management of care to local leadership to improve overall health and care for all patients. In January 2019, the NHS Long-Term Plan announced that the nation will transition to an integrated care systems (ICS) framework by 2021.
Evolving out of STPs, the goal of the ICS framework is to create a stronger connection between all NHS providers, commissioners and local authorities by sharing targets and pooling resources. This framework empowers healthcare organisations to join forces in cultivating smooth provision of care to individuals in their geographic area, resulting in patients receiving the best care possible and care teams participating in joined-up care efforts.
A key purpose of the ICS framework is to align the incentives of healthcare providers. Rather than shifting patients to other parts of the care pathway, this approach pools incentives and resources to give organisations incentive to focus on preventing health issues. This framework allows for greater collaboration between care teams through new facilities such as neighbourhood-based care hubs. These new locations promote streamlined communication and collaboration between healthcare partner teams and allow for easier access by community members. The ICS framework is currently being applied across London and other localised areas in England, with all areas transitioning to the ICS framework by April 2021.
Is risk management software the answer to staying connected?
A fundamental aspect of the ICS framework is the collaboration that takes place between providers in an area. As healthcare organisations begin operating this way, it is crucial to have a tool in place to further understand themes and trends in safety, risk and quality across ICSs. The patient safety and risk management software used can add major value by streamlining the capture and sharing of data through independent systems, with one centralised business intelligence tool allowing organisations to gain a better understanding of data across multiple systems. This promotes easy management of data sharing and benchmarking capabilities. In particular, a mortality review module can allow for benchmarking through many different organisations, comparing outcomes from national methodologies such as the SJR, supplemented by organisation-specific methodologies for multiple stages. Additionally, a patient safety software should include functionality to share and engage with safety information and learnings across ICSs. In line with the Safety-II movement, this aspect of a risk management software should highlight instances of excellent care and promote learning from these examples.
By using the RLDatix software, an organisation can manage all system information and garner a holistic view of organisational data for easy review. The use of the Business Intelligence tool over several independent systems promotes clear visibility of all learning and promotes transparency across all organisations. This makes the process of identifying areas of improvement much easier.
When each provider organisation uses the same risk management system as their ICS partner, they can more effectively share best-practices and learning across the system and improve communication between each of the providers. This framework not only supports a more collaborative approach to care, but also provides an opportunity for a connected approach to sharing valuable learnings and best practices between all providers. Whilst most organisations continue to use independent systems, ICSs open up the opportunity of greater working between system partners by using analytics tools leveraged across individual instances of the same patient safety software.
Sharing data for organisation-wide improvements
With ICSs facilitating a shift from care in hospitals to care in the community, this increases the number of physical locations that provide care in the community and requires each organisation to report and view data and information remotely. A cloud-based software platform would allow for easy, remote access to data and a full view of information across the entire organisation. This empowers staff to gain valuable insights from one source and ensures that each staff member can quickly report and access information when they need it, whilst mobile functionality enables quick capture of event data while staff are on the move.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and impact healthcare, it has become increasingly important for safety tools to support mobile functionality. Healthcare organisations around the world are taking the initiative to shift how they deliver care including the acceleration of system-wide ways of working. To protect both staff and patients from unnecessary exposure, some organisations are transitioning from in-person services to an online approach. By providing a centralised digital platform, RLDatix supports these changes by providing a solution that is accessible from anywhere at any time, allowing staff to easily access information surrounding incidents, feedback and other related data.
Many organisations coming together through the ICS framework will make streamlining governance processes a top priority. A robust policy management system would allow organisations to efficiently manage all policies, procedures and important documents in one easily accessible library. Through transference of processes, tracking of changes and assignment of responsibilities, frontline staff have the most up-to-date information at the point of care.
With the ICS framework on track to becoming the future of how England’s healthcare providers work together, it is increasingly important for organisations to adopt systems and tools that allow providers to identify themes and trends across the ICS and share areas for improvement. When this is achieved, providers will be better equipped to share learnings with each other and provide consistent care to their local communities.